Daily Letters

A selection of letters received.

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June 25, 2005

What are you gonna do?

Dear George:

I am a 51 year old gay black man. Raised in Southern Maryland and as such would spend a great deal of time with my grandparents on their farm. Over 100 acres of horses, cows, pigs, chickens. Corn, tobacco, sow bean, Wheat. Several fruit orchards.

Though were times when if not for my grandparents some of the seven kids that my parents had would have been taken away by the authorities. And since I am second to the youngest my younger and I may would have become 'wardens of the state'.

Through school though food, clothing, money and homes were a major matter I always did well in school and seldom missed a day. With the exception of my first year in 1st grade at a Catholic School. Since my parents could not afford to pay the tuition nor for my uniform, shoes or books I was kept back one year. And as a result I and most of my other siblings who were still in school would be sent to public schools. At that time, in the late 50's and early 60's school had not yet been integrated. But, by 5th and or 6th grade schools in St. Mary's County would be integrated.

Always a good student, at that time, and perhaps still now, someone such as myself whop made good grades and was active in school was considered 'acting white'. And though I did not always have a place to stay I always was one of the most popular students. Made good grades, involved in student curricular, on the honor roll. And, often out-shined the more affluent white kids.

Racism was never an issue with me. Always knowing that I was gay though I'd have a few girl friends as early as 4th or 5th grade grade I can not ever remember going through a lot of bull shit pretending that I did not have interest in other boys. The third relationship that I would have in 6th grade with a girl was with a white girl. In 7th grade I would engage in a sexual relationship with another boy. He was white and to this day I refer to him as 'my first love.'

And though he would live a straight life it was my relationship with him that, henceforth, I would regard a defining moment in my life. Before then I would contemplate, perhaps, a life with a female but once he and I became 'friends' I'd realize but accept the fact that whatever it was that I thought that I felt for the several girls that I had a crush on, no female could ever make me feel the way that other males do. So, long before it was fashionable or politically correct ... and without apologies ... I would come out. And though I've had relations with folks of all ethnicities, races and creeds for the most part most of my relations with other men have been 'integrated.'

I say this because it is a most important aspect of my life. While in grade, junior and high school racism did not impact my life the way that it would soon after I'd enter college and the work force once I'd enter the University of Maryland at College Park in the fall of 1973 racism has had a devastating impact on every aspect of my life. And during all this time, and in a similar way as I during my early years I always worked hard and out shined many, including the more affluent who often were white but what I did not realize until years later was that each time that I, a black man, held the hand or walked with or worked with or associated with another white person that that person, in cahoots with society, would negatively reinforce and discriminate against me.

And since my friends, lovers, colleagues and associates have often been white the disparity between our experiences could not have been dismissed. I am sure that if you were to discuss this 'actin' white thing' with Condoleeza or Collin Powel they will inform your that what I am saying is 'right on the mark.' And, in fact, many black folks have expressed similar feelings in regards to Condoleeza. And though I disagree with many of the policies that she and you support I also understand that you and she are entitled to your perspective and since your careers have been 'what it has been' perahps you and she have a better understanding of the issues than I. And with that having been said I often defend Condoleeza in that as a gay black man I realize that sometimes when others criticize 'blacks who associate with or 'act white' it is more about racism and an attempt to dismantle a person of color.

And in her defense in the 70's but more 80's I would become aware of several black women who would study Russian History and would, of course, enter the government in areas that black women had never before entered. Several of them, in recent years, as result, are now experts in their areas. And what disturbs me as a gay black man who had relations with white men is the fact that there is a system already in place ... and one that I am very familiar with ... that will dismantle and destroy a colored person's career if he and/or she 'acts white' or 'think out side of the block.'

I say all this so that you'll have a better understanding from where I stand. On the issue marriage equality I stand firmly put. I will marry whomever I choose to marry. And sleep with whom or whatever I choose to sleep with. As has and does my white counter part. At least the white counter part that I've associated with. There is little secrecy regarding the money, power and affluence that gay white men have privy to. Many who demonstrate in support equality. The same way that your grandfather, George Washington, did.

Yet, these white folks some who slept and set up house with, the same government that I, they and you worked for discriminated against me, specifically, as a black man.

You may not remember this but as was the case with several other Presidents before you ... we've met before. One one such occasion a friend would inviter me to the White house and once outside the gate would suggest that we get together to smoke crack.

Beginning with Easter of 1988 'white guys' would approach about crack. Many of these white guys a few or years before would approach about cocaine. many of them had connections with the White House or Capitol Hill. While many of these acquaintances would approach me long before you were in the White House I do remember that in 1985 that a straight white guy that I'd meet at Mr. P's and who needed a ride home would inquire if I knew where he could get some cocaine for a neighbor and that the neighbor was a son of the Vice President, George Bush, Sr.

I'd give him a ride to his home which was on Massachusetts Avenue. He, a DJ, would often call me asking me if I find cocaine for his friend who lived on Massachusetts Avenue. I never ever gave him any indication that I would 'be so kind' as to fetch for drugs for him. What is important in this scenario is the relationship that white men will 'create' when associating with black men. This would occur in 1985. All the years before many and not all white men would approach me the exact same way.

In 1991 'a white guy' offered me some crystal but always would ask me to fetch crack. Mr. President, as a gay black man ... who practiced integration ... I wanna know what are gonna do about racism and discrimination.

I can not get back what's been taken from me. It was one year ago today during the WWII Memorial Day on the National Mall that I'd engage in a conversation with 'my counter part' regarding global issues. He would suggest that your father had a better understanding of the world and that you were dismantling or destroying many of the alliances that he had established. And when I would disagree suggesting that as a person of color the impact that your father had in Central and South America was not unlike the impact that George Washington had had on Native Americans or that white men had had in Australia or that the Dutch had had in South Africa or that the white men that I had known, over the years, had had on my black life or that what you are now during in Iraq is no different and, in fact, connected, he'd have the same reaction as do most folks when I, a black man, speak the truth with my black mouth.

Mr. President, what are you gonna do?

Elvert
Age 51
Washington, DC

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